Appliances Most of us have run across an ancient refrigerator or range in someone's kitchen that's still working flawlessly long after it should have been hauled to the dump. Like most statistical summaries, the chart showing the life expectancy of major appliances is based on averages. With an estimated 600 million appliances at work in American households, there will be plenty of exceptions. In fact, the Association of Home Appliances Manufacturers says most appliances are not junked at all. A majority are sold, traded in, left behind in a move or given away, and they faithfully serve second or even third owners. As a result, according to the trade group, how long these household workhorses actually last is impossible to say. Americans spend more than $15 billion a year on new appliances. Very expensive, restaurant-quality appliances are increasingly popular. The estimated retail prices above, however, are for products from Whirlpool and General Electric, two widely available brands (check the price of dozens of models on their Websites). You can spend a lot more if you want. GE's Terry Dunn says any appliance that uses water will benefit from a water softener and water-filtration system. "Fewer chemicals and minerals will prolong the life and improve the performance," he explains. His tips for prolonging life for other appliances:
  • Clean the condenser coils on refrigerators annually.
  • Change air-conditioner filters monthly during the operating season.
  • Replace washer fill hoses every five years; turn off the water supply when away for an extended period. Drain hoses if below-freezing temperatures are expected.
  • Inspect and clean the exhaust duct on the clothes dryer at least once a year, and clean the lint filter before each use.
  • Don't allow heavy grease buildup on the oven interior.
Appliances
Appliance Life span
(years)
Replacement cost
Air conditioner (room-size) 10 $240-$700
Dishwasher 10 $240-$700
Dryer 14 $240-$650
Electric range 17 $300-$1,350
Garbage disposer 10 $40-$200
Gas range 19 $280-$1,050
Microwave 11 $300-$680
Refrigerator 14-17 $350-$2,000
Washer 13 $260-$700
Sources: NAHB 1998 Housing Facts, Figures and Trends;
Whirlpool and General Electric appliance divisions
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